Lee shines as defense steals show

It's all part of trying to be the NFL's top defense, Collins says after the Family Night Scrimmage

Instead of booing Aaron Rodgers and the offense, perhaps the 56,600 fans inside Lambeau Field on Sunday for the Family Night Scrimmage should have been cheering wildly for the defense.

In an event in which touchdowns often come at a fast-and-furious pace, the defense yielded just one score — and that was set up by a questionable pass-interference penalty.

"I thought the defense flew around. I thought they got off blocks," coach Mike McCarthy said. "I thought their production was outstanding. I really thought they flew to the ball. It looked to me, from not studying it, it looked like they did a good job with the bump at the line of scrimmage, disrupting the routes. I thought the defense had a very good night."

One of the standout performers was rookie cornerback Patrick Lee, who entered the night having a nondescript training camp. That all changed on the first series, with Rodgers and the offense facing the No. 2 defense.

On the fifth play from scrimmage, Rodgers went deep to Donald Driver. Lee, a second-round pick, turned to look for the ball and bumped into Driver, drawing a suspect penalty for pass interference. That play set up the night's only touchdown.

"Oh, I think Donald dropped on that one," Lee said with a grin. "He dropped on purpose on that one. I had good lean and he just fell and the ref threw it."

Instead of being frustrated by the call, Lee stayed aggressive. He broke up Rodgers passes intended for Greg Jennings and James Jones. In the final moments of the scrimmage, Lee broke up a pair of passes from rookie Matt Flynn intended for undrafted rookie Taj Smith.

"All the coaches came up to me and said I was a good job," Lee said, then added: "It means a lot. It means I'm doing something out there."

Other than the opening touchdown, the defense reigned in the rain. The offense managed just 252 yards in 55 plays. Starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers finished 7-for-20, including a stretch of 10 straight incompletions. Rodgers heated up in a two-minute drill, but Aaron Rouse thwarted the drive with an interception. Rookie quarterback Brian Brohm went 6-for-15 for 61 yards and Flynn finished 6-for-11 for 49 yards.

"We did a great job. First team, second team, all around," safety Nick Collins said. "The guys went out there and competed. It was very hard for the receivers to get off the line and catch balls tonight."

Linebacker Brady Poppinga was a little more low-key about the defense's success.

"I don't think there's anything to read into in terms of where everybody's at," Poppinga said. "I think it's always encouraging to go out there and make plays, but at the end of the day, you're still a ways away from the season. I wouldn't read into it too much."

But it beats giving up a bunch of touchdowns. McCarthy challenged the defense, saying that group would be the key to success this season. It's only one test, but so far, so good.

"That's it. Try to be the No. 1 defense in the NFL. That's our goal this year," Collins said.

Bill Huber writes for Packer Report. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com


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